EU special envoy for religious freedom Jan Figel told CNA that there is a need to aid countries at the front-lines of conflicts that involve religious persecution and mass refugee displacement.
He said: “Europe should provide more cooperation and assistance, as there are countries, like Jordan, that cannot sustain the flow of refugees that is coming to their lands.”
He added that “Jordan did not close its borders, it is open to refugees from Syria and Iraq, and it needs and deserves more EU support and comprehensive cooperation.”
Figel focused on the plight of Christians in the Middle East in his own work. For his first official overseas trip, he visited Jordan October 18-19, meeting with representatives of government and religious and civil society leaders.
The EU envoy praised Jordanian Muslim leaders’ work against extremism. Stressing that authorities in Jordan “are very much committed in dialogue and action against radicalization, violence and extremism,” he praised the Jordanian commitment to fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) noting that“Jordan is a member of anti-ISIS coalition,” he said.
The country’s work is also cultural. It puts into action “significant initiatives to show that Islam is a moderate religion beyond any extremist interpretations.”
The EU envoy praised Jordanian initiatives for dialogue like the Amman Message, which King Abdullah II of Jordan issued in 2004 as a call for tolerance and unity in the Muslim world.
The message recognized eight legal schools across various branches of Islam, rebuked sectarian attitudes like declaring other Muslims apostate, and set conditions to counter illegitimate edicts issued in the name of Islam; it drew support from 200 Islamic scholars from more than 50 countries, he said.
Jordan also backed the 2009 letter “A Common Word Between Us and You,” he continued noting that King Abdullah and Prince Ghazi Ben Muhammad also launched the World Interfaith Harmony Week, marked in the first week of February.
At a media symposium organized by Alliance Defending Freedom International in Brussels, the EU special envoy for religious freedom has said that the genocide of Christians and Yazidis in the Middle East and the refugee crisis should be a priority for Europe.
Noting that “It is evident that what it is going on the Middle East affects the rest of the world,” he explained, “I deem that the religious persecutions against Christians and Yazidis can be labeled as genocide, and this is the reason why the Middle East is a priority: there is a crime committed in the geopolitical center of the world, where three continents meet and the most important religions live together.”